After I made my mind to keep TiVo, I have to deal with another problem: to return my ReplayTV set within the 30 days money-back warranty. To be honest, it is a frustrating process, so I decide to contribute some unsolicited tips for ReplayTV's customer service department:
Tip 1: Provide A Toll-Free Number
ReplayTV may be the only national company that does not advertise a 800-number for its support line. (It does provide toll-free for sales and service activation, which only adds to the insult.) Nowadays, even my local lawn service company has a toll-free number. Vonage, the VOIP company, provides a toll-free number to general consumers for $4.99/month for the first 100 minutes and 4.9 cents/min thereafter -- there is no reason ReplayTV cannot get a cheaper rate. Any reason ReplayTV cannot afford one?
Tip 2: Longer Operating Hours
Like TiVo, ReplayTV is a product that enables people to the favorite shows any time, but it is an irony that its service department only operates 44 hours week, and these 44 hours are the hours people typically don't watch TV: 8AM to 6PM PST on Monday through Friday, and 8AM to 2PM PST on Saturday. In comparison, TiVo's 7AM-8PM, Monday through Sunday support is at least more reasonable. Can ReplayTV match TiVo's longer operating hours?
Tip 3: Make Your Agents Smile
I have to make two calls to request a return. Both agents I talked to can be summarized in one word: listless. I cannot feel that they really want to resolve my problem -- they just ask me one question after another in a tone like I were requesting a big favor. One of them didn't even introduce her name at the beginning. Alas, customer service should be an investment to keep customer satisfaction; if every customer has the same unsatisfactory experience like I have, it will not play out well for ReplayTV.
Tip 4: Tune the Process
To my surprise, even after 10 minutes' intensive Q&A, successful verification of my original order and approval of a return, the ReplayTV agent still cannot give me the Return Material Authorization (RMA) number over the phone. Instead, I was told someone will contact me in the next 72 hours to give me the detailed directions and RMA to make a return. I did receive the detailed instructions via email after 48 hours, but I would prefer ReplayTV to make it a streamlined process. Why couldn't I get the same information in the same phone call?
Yes, I might be picky. I have been working in customer service before so I understand how a well-operated customer service department can be a valuable asset to a company instead of a mere cost drain. For ReplayTV, the current customer service team is not there yet.